London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Post Reply
John Upham
Posts: 4353
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by John Upham » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:57 am

Following my enforced retirement from chess in 1983 (University College London and I differed on my time management techniques :lol: ) I learnt that my old club, London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) has ceased to be and possibly morphed into Barbican.

Does anyone have knowledge of the history of this great club and its members? I saw a mention of Mike W Wills recently and he was a leading light during my membership (1978 - 1983).

I have a copy of "The CentYMCA Story" which contains much information about London League and Middlesex League chess in the 1970s.

Any contributions would be most welcome :D
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Simon Brown
Posts: 724
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:38 pm
Location: Sevenoaks, Kent, if not in Costa Calida, Spain

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Simon Brown » Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:04 pm

I was a member of CentYMCA from about 1971 until 1983 or so. The club was mastermined by Mike Wills and met in extraordinary premises in Endell Street, Covent Garden. A chess room was open every day and it attracted the sort of colourful characters seldom seen these days. If I recall, Leonard Barden recommended the club to a number of aspiring juniors at that time. It ran all sorts of teams called CentYMCA Lions, Dragons, Tigers etc. mainly based around age groups. Lots of strong players, lots of blitz tournaments, a regular simul after Hastings or Lloyds Bank. Vaganyan did a simul here in about 1974 and lost 10 games plus a lot of draws.

I have some great memories, not least a trip to Cambridge to play the University team, which resulted in near heart attacks for my parents when I, aged about 14, was delivered home at about 2am by another well-known contributor to this forum. Also a blitz tournament with Bronstein and Tamainov, which is reported on in the "CentYMCA story" where I scored 0/9 but at least played the Albin Counter Gambit against Tamainov! Must have been 1975, just after they played at Hastings.

The demise started when the club was forced to move from Endell Street to the new YMCA on Tottenham Court Road, in maybe 1979. The colourful characters swiftly disappeared since membership of the YMCA was obligatory if you wanted to play home games, or even get in. After three defaults (my only three defaults in 30 years of playing) through being denied entry in my student days, I swapped my allegiance to Hampstead.

If I recall, CentYMCA limped on until the first season of the 4NCL, when a team called Barbican but mainly comprising CentYMCA players was entered. After that, premises were rented at Barbican and the CentYMCA name disappeared.

Happy days. For earlier memories, you should try to find Mike Wills or Jimmy Adams. I wouldn't know where to start

John Upham
Posts: 4353
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by John Upham » Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:32 pm

I have created a Facebook Group http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref= ... 7416447714 for the purpose of celebrating CentYMCA.

If you were a former member then perhaps you would consider getting in contact. I will attempt to publish some photographs from this period.

The club benefited hugely from the input of Mike W Wills, who I believe now lives in Maidstone, Kent.

I'd like to help to organise a reunion if at all possible.
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Jonathan Rogers
Posts: 3891
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:26 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:00 pm

"If I recall, CentYMCA limped on until the first season of the 4NCL, when a team called Barbican but mainly comprising CentYMCA players was entered. After that, premises were rented at Barbican and the CentYMCA name disappeared."

YMCA had morphed into Barbican in 1990, when they started playing there and won both the London League and National Club in its first year under that name. (1990/91). I think. As in other respects, Gary Kenworthy is the man to as about this period (but see too an article by Colin Crouch in CHESS 1991 on the National Club victory). The bit above about the 4NCL is nonsense, that having started only in 1993/4 and whilst "Barbican" entered a team, Gary was happy to ask any strong player to play for it,and many did - though I daresay that some unpaid regulars on the lower boards were former YMCA regulars.

andrew martin

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by andrew martin » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:57 am

Yeh, I remember that trip to Cambridge...

I have no doubt at all that Richard W ( two chicken curries,no rice) O Brien, could provide further details.

Simon Brown
Posts: 724
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:38 pm
Location: Sevenoaks, Kent, if not in Costa Calida, Spain

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Simon Brown » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:01 pm

Hi John

I've joined your Facebook group. Doubt I have much to contribute apart from memories and a few games, but I will keep a look out - I occasionally find gems at my mother's house from the good old days...

All the best

Simon

John Upham
Posts: 4353
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by John Upham » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:00 pm

I have made available photographs of four CentYMCA simuls from the 1970s starring various members of this forum at
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=8 ... =665497194 which is a Facebook public URL*

Simon Brown and I have identified a number of players but not all of them. Perhaps you could help? :D

The simuls are given by :

TV Petrosian
B Kurajica
DI Bronstein
VI Korchnoi

*if you are a Facebook user then you will see the tagging info for each photograph by accessing them normally, otherwise not I regret to say. :x

Many thanks!
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Leonard Barden
Posts: 1488
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Leonard Barden » Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:31 pm

In the Petrosian simul (photo 6) the opponents shown are Glenn Flear and Andrew Martin. The spectator with the sneering expression is me.

in photo 12 the bottom pic is not from 1977 or at the YMCA but is Korchnoi's simul against London juniors at Starcross School, Islington, in January 1976. Korchnoi is making a move against Julian Hodgson, with Nigel Short behind and Ian Wells just visible behind Short.l

Simon Spivack
Posts: 600
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:06 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Simon Spivack » Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:27 pm

The building in Endell Street is still there: it's Saint Mungos Hostel for the homeless.

The Tottenham Court Road venue was ghastly, not only were we always playing in a basement, but finding the room could be a challenge for visitors. Even the nearby YWCA was better.

Mike Wills sent me a postcard at the time of his retirement, which included his address. Unfortunately, with my eyesight being what it is; it is unlikely I'll be able to find it. I have a vague recollection that retirement was to the seaside. He put a tremendous amount of work into junior chess: one of the good. He played for East Ham in his later years in London.

Jimmy Adams is the editor of Chess magazine and should be contactable. Many of the YMCA's older members also belonged to the bohemian Bayswater chess club which had a lot of members from central Europe. Jimmy belonged to Bayswater and Metropolitan.

It is so long ago that my memory could be at fault, yet I recall that the late Mike Crewsden did what he could to help; club treasurer, or something like that. I was never a member of the YMCA, but did belong to Bayswater, as well as Islington. One time I had a long conversation with Mike about Tsuji Masanobu, whom Mike had been trying to track down at the end of the Pacific War. Mike spoke very highly of the book Japan's Imperial Conspiracy by David Bergamini. Mike was a true gentleman, a bit garrulous, but in the nicest possible sense, he did not seek to dominate conversations.

As I recall many of the simultaneous displays were held after Hastings, not just at the Y, but also at venues such as the Mary Ward Settlement (also known as the Mary Ward Centre). Karpov gave a display in 1971.

carstenpedersen
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 10:20 am

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by carstenpedersen » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:14 pm

Simon

Incidentally, I stumbled across this game when looking for something else. Remember it?

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O
6. Be3 Nc6 7. Qd2 Re8 8. Nge2 Rb8 9. O-O-O? a6 10. h4 h5 11. Bg5 b5 12. g4
hxg4 13. Bg2 Na5 14. cxb5 Nc4 15. Qf4 Nh5! 16. Qh2 axb5 17. Ng3 c5 18. Nxh5 gxh5
19. fxg4 Qa5 20. Kb1 b4 21. Nd5 Ra8! White Resigns

Carsten

Simon Spivack
Posts: 600
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:06 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Simon Spivack » Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:44 pm

carstenpedersen wrote:Simon

Incidentally, I stumbled across this game when looking for something else. Remember it?

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O
6. Be3 Nc6 7. Qd2 Re8 8. Nge2 Rb8 9. O-O-O? a6 10. h4 h5 11. Bg5 b5 12. g4
hxg4 13. Bg2 Na5 14. cxb5 Nc4 15. Qf4 Nh5! 16. Qh2 axb5 17. Ng3 c5 18. Nxh5 gxh5
19. fxg4 Qa5 20. Kb1 b4 21. Nd5 Ra8! White Resigns

Carsten
Of course.

That was a game in a simultaneous display given by Romanishin, who played White against me. I presume you've come across a thirty-one year old issue of The Times; Harry Golembek included this game in his article, he was unsparing in his flattery! Such praise was somewhat undeserved, it is very confusing travelling around in a circle, something Bronstein once observed to me and I later learnt from personal experience. The annotations above are slightly odd, there was nothing wrong with White's ninth move; White's eleventh to thirteenth were far more dubious. Come to think of it, Golombek provided more analysis that the above, I was told it was published in The People, but have never seen that article.

On less certain ground I believe this was played at the Mary Ward Settlement. I was in the far corner to the right of the door as one entered the room. Sitting next to me was a far younger boy than me. He pointed out my final move, which I had already seen. :-)

Leonard Barden
Posts: 1488
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Jan 25, 2009 4:29 pm

No, it wasn't at Mary Ward, where we had space for tournaments but not for simuls. I think it was probably at Endell Street, though I am not sure. I recall your father arriving about an hour after the start and my informing him that you were the first to win. Probably not the first to finish, for Jim Plaskett on top board lost in around 15 moves.

carstenpedersen
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 10:20 am

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by carstenpedersen » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:15 pm

The source is BCM june 77 and the venue is mentioned as CentYMCA, so Endell St, if I've read the rest of the thread correctly.

The game notes are from the BCM report which was written by the previous poster............

The other winners against Romanishin were Nick Benjamin, Julian, Simon Knott & Ian Whittaker and he also conceded 8 draws out of 30 games.

Finally, Romanishin - Plaskett

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 g6 5. O-O
Bg7 6. b3 O-O 7. Bb2 c5 8. d4 cxd4 9. Qxd4 Nc6 10. Qh4 h6 11. Rd1 g5 12. Nxg5
hxg5 13. Qxg5 e6?? 14. Rxd7 1-0

Simon Spivack
Posts: 600
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 4:06 pm

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Simon Spivack » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:55 pm

carstenpedersen wrote:The game notes are from the BCM report which was written by the previous poster............
My apologies to Leonard, who co-authored with Bill Hartston and Raymond Keene one of the great early books in Batsford's Contemporary Chess Openings Series. I refer, of course, to The Kings Indian Defence. Leonard wrote the chapters on the Saemisch, as well as the Orthodox and other lines. At that time 9.000 had not been played and was not given. I shall substantiate my assertion about the adequacy of this move by appealing to Holy Writ; Chessbase, after the half moves 10.h4 h5, gives:

"3. Statistics
Black scores badly (30%).
Black performs Elo 2290 against an opposition of Elo 2437 (-147).
White performs Elo 2544 against an opposition of Elo 2397 (+147).
White wins: 9 (=60%), Draws: 3 (=20%), Black wins: 3 (=20%)
The drawing quote is low. (7% quick draws, < 20 Moves)

"White wins are shorter than average (37).
Black wins are shorter than average (34).
Draws are of average length (42)."

The Westerinen System fell out of fashion a long time ago, however, readers may like the following game:

[Event "FRG-ch int"]
[Site "Dortmund"]
[Date "1973.??.??"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Spassky, Boris V"]
[Black "Keene, Raymond"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E84"]
[WhiteElo "2660"]
[BlackElo "2435"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "1973.??.??"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "15"]
[EventCountry "GER"]
[EventCategory "7"]
[Source "ChessBase"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. e4 O-O 5. Be3 d6 6. f3 Nc6 7. Nge2 Rb8 8. h4 h5 9. Qd2 Re8 10. O-O-O a6 11. Qe1 b5 12. e5 Nd7 13. g4 dxe5 14. gxh5 exd4 15.Nxd4 Nxd4 16. Bxd4 Bxd4 17. Rxd4 e5 18. Rd2 Qf6 19. hxg6 fxg6 20. cxb5 Nf8 21.h5 Qxf3 22. Rf2 Qg4 23. Ne4 1-0

carstenpedersen wrote:The other winners against Romanishin were Nick Benjamin, Julian, Simon Knott & Ian Whittaker and he also conceded 8 draws out of 30 games.
"Julian" being Julian Hodgson, as most readers will be aware.

Many thanks for these memories. I have felt tempted to call on Saint Mungos Hostel, but have resisted. It might be misconceived as wallowing in the private miseries of the homeless.

Daryl Taylor
Posts: 36
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:40 am

Re: London Central YMCA (aka CentYMCA) Chess Club

Post by Daryl Taylor » Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:51 am

Simon Brown wrote: The demise started when the club was forced to move from Endell Street to the new YMCA on Tottenham Court Road, in maybe 1979. The colourful characters swiftly disappeared since membership of the YMCA was obligatory if you wanted to play home games, or even get in. After three defaults (my only three defaults in 30 years of playing) through being denied entry in my student days, I swapped my allegiance to Hampstead.
Hi Simon,

I think I still have your letter of resignation, which you left at the front desk of the YMCA after they refused to let you in for a club match for the third time.

The defaults were probably not recorded as such. Anticipating these problems of access (and other difficulties involved in getting twelve good men and true to turn up for a London League match), it was my policy to serve as non-playing captain. Over that successful season I became quite adept at stepping in as a late substitute with 29 minutes already gone on the clock, usually managing to get at least half a point. Failing this, I could always go down to the fishbowl room and drag one of the blitz players out for a first team game (some of them even got results for us!).

We did briefly circumvent the access problem by using the YMCA boardroom, but the disparity in attitude between the chess club and the YMCA was always going to lead to a parting of the ways. I can detail the history of this if anyone is interested.

Post Reply